How Much do Translators Earn?
Long story short depends on how hard and smart you work (the latter is much more critical), but it’s possible to make a six-figure income doing translation work.
On most jobs, I average between $40–80 an hour. There is a document attached below that lists standard rates you can earn in the language field.
Last week I signed my first 5-figure contract, and it’s not even for translating! It’s for spot-checking someone else’s translation of rather massive work, meaning it’s hard but fast work.
As a medical interpreter, you can make $50–100 per session, which should take about an hour, including the preparation. Court translators earn about the same.
Translating text, you can make anywhere from $.05 to $.20 per word, depending on the language used, area of expertise, reputation, and client size.
As a personal interpreter, you can make the same rates, plus tips. I was once offered a $10,000 bonus for helping a client navigate medical insurance and settle a $110,000 bill. The whole progress took only a few hours a month for five months.
Government linguists also earn upward of $60,000 a year, depending on their language set, area of expertise, and whether or not they have a security clearance. The average is closer to $100,000.
As a written translator, you can make around $1,000 a week — or more, or less — depending on how much work you have coming in and how well you manage your time. This might be translating one 30+ page legal contract or several chapters from a biography.
As a summary transcriptionist, you can make $20–50+ an hour watching shows, writing a summary, and noting pertinent facts.
As an editor or fact-checker, you can make between $30-$50 an hour, depending on the language and urgency of the project.
As a voice-over talent, you can make $20-$50 an hour and up, depending on the rarity of your language, the quality of your voice, and how well you market yourself.